Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Pastor as Priest

Yesterday, we talked about the role of the priest in the history of the Christian faith, and maybe you're thinking, "Sure, Aidan, but Jesus did away with all of that. That may have been true for the people of God once upon a time, but once Christ came onto the scene, we're supposed to just come directly to Him. No more intermediaries. Just Christ. Can't these Catholics just get on board with the gospel of grace?" 

And so, here we are again, trying to assert some kind of moral authority, trying to stand on some kind of theological high ground where we are certain that we are the ones who have figured it out and if everyone would just adopt our kind of faith, our kind of worship, our very doctrine, then the whole world would be saved by now! 

But not so fast.

Because how many Christians - protestant Christians - do you know whose faith depends upon an intermediary? Even today. How many Christians are among us who don't have their own habit of spiritual disciplines, but only take what they are fed by others. 

There are Christians among us who leave a church just because the pastor leaves. Whether he resigns or is fired or feels God's call to a new congregation or whatever the reason, Christians will leave a church to follow a pastor (or disengage from church entirely because their pastor moved away from them). 

There are Christians among us whose faith is grounded in the faith of a mentor or perhaps a matriarch or patriarch, some figure present in the church or in their life who has taught them the ropes and who keeps them on track. It's usually an older person who has been practicing faith for a long time, who knows the Bible well, who prays faithfully and regularly and with great hope and trust in the outcome. Take this person away, through death or illness or geography, and the faith of these Christians crumbles. 

One of the things we've been seeing a lot of in the church in the past couple of decades is young Christians, children who grew up in the church, pushing back against simply having the faith of their parents. They've been to church every Sunday for all of the formative years of their life, but they've found that they believe what they believe only because that's what their parents believed, and they often take a break from the church or branch out entirely because they want to discover their own faith. They want to know what they really believe, if anything at all. They don't want the faith of the intermediary, and yet, that's what so many of our young people have - the "family" faith. 

The truth is that for more of us than would like to admit it, we have an intermediary in our faith, even when we adamantly proclaim that we don't need to or even that we're not supposed to. So much of our faith still rests upon someone who stands between us and God, whatever role that person is in and whatever role we have assigned them. 

So it's strange, then, that we try to sit on some high horse and scoff at the Catholic faith that openly confesses its intermediaries, that plainly admits their role in building the Catholic faith. It's strange that we sit here and try to laugh at how silly it all seems that one priest using the wrong pronoun during a thousand baptisms could mean anything at all (and the news reported last night that it's more than one priest in more than one location). 

And yet, change our pastor or our mentor or our spiritual guide, and we are ready to walk out of our church entirely. 

See the hypocrisy?

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